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Marussia left in financial limbo

ESPN Staff
June 25, 2013 « Pirelli confident it's on top of tyre failures | Hamilton desires Ferrari drive »
The lack of a commercial agreement makes Marussia's future less certain © Sutton Images
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While Formula One's big boys think little of spending millions of pounds on tinkering to make their cars that split second more competitive, at the other end of the grid the likes of Marussia have to look at where every dollar is spent. Which makes the fact it is ineligible to claim any prize money however well it does all the more galling.

Marussia's problem is that it has not agreed a commercial deal with Bernie Ecclestone (in his role as representative of CVC Capital Partners, the private equity owner of the sport). Ecclestone has repeatedly claimed there is a deal on the table; the problem is that nobody at Marussia seems to have seen it.

"All we ask for is a level playing field," Graeme Lowdon, the Marussia chief executive, told the Times. "All teams should be treated equally. For whatever reason, that does not seem to be the case. We just don't have a deal with the commercial rights-holder. Why should that be? This sport is full of strange mysteries and that is one of them."

Lowden said that Ecclestone reports to the CVC board and it is that board who is ultimately responsible. "That board has to make a decision on how it treats companies it deals with. We are one of those companies, and it chooses to treat us differently. It doesn't make any sense to me, but then I don't work for CVC. Maybe they have a master plan."

At present Marussia sits in tenth place in the constructors' championship, a position that in 2012 was worth £35 million at the end of the season, but come November they will not collect anything even if they remain there. Against that backdrop it makes the survival of the team all the more difficult in a sport where costs continue to escalate.

Lowden argues that it is the responsibility of CVC to look after all those involved equally. "This is the Formula One World Championship, not the world championship of private equity excellence. My view is that the championship is bigger than the participants and that is the reason why CVC have a successful investment. It should be treated with a high degree of respect, including the participants."